[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the Township of Montclair 5-9-2006 by Ord. No. 06-16. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 71, alarm systems, adopted 11-25-1986 by Ord. No. 86-47, as amended.
The purpose of this chapter is to encourage alarm users and alarm companies to properly use and maintain the operational effectiveness of alarm systems in order to improve the reliability of alarm systems and reduce or eliminate false alarms.
This chapter governs alarm systems intended to summon law enforcement response, and requires registration, establishes fees, provides for penalties for violations and establishes a system of administration.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ALARM ADMINISTRATOR
- The person designated by the Montclair Police and Fire Department to administer, control and review false alarm reduction efforts, provide public reports regarding alarm response statistics and administer the provisions of this chapter.
- ALARM INSTALLATION COMPANY
- A person in the business of selling, providing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving or installing an alarm system in an alarm site.
- ALARM NOTIFICATION
- A timely verbal report to the Montclair Police or Fire Department that an alarm, either manual or automatic, has been activated at a particular alarm site.
- ALARM REGISTRATION
- Authorization in accordance with this chapter granted by the alarm administrator to an alarm user to operate an alarm system.
- ALARM SITE
- A single fixed premises or location served by an alarm system or systems. Each unit, if served by a separate alarm system in a multiunit building or complex, shall be considered a separate alarm site.
- ALARM SYSTEM
- A device or series of devices, including, but not limited to, hardwired systems and systems interconnected with a radio frequency method such as cellular or private radio signals, which emit or transmit a remote or local audible, visual or electronic signal indicating an alarm condition and intended to summon law enforcement or fire response, including local alarm systems. The term "alarm system" does not include an alarm installed in a vehicle or on someone's person unless the vehicle or the personal alarm is permanently located at a site.
- ALARM USER
- Any person who has contracted for monitoring, repair, installation or maintenance service from an alarm installation company or monitoring company for an alarm system, or who owns or operates an alarm system which is not monitored, maintained or repaired under contract.
- ARMING STATION
- A manually operated device that allows control of an alarm system.
- AUTOMATIC VOICE DIALER
- Any electrical, electronic, mechanical or other device capable of being programmed to send a prerecorded voice message, when activated, over a telephone line, radio or other communication system, to a law enforcement, public safety or emergency services agency requesting dispatch.
- Notification given to the Montclair Police or Fire Department by a monitoring company (designated by the alarm user) subsequent to an alarm notification for the alarm site that there is no emergency at the alarm site requiring a law enforcement officer's or fire-fighter's response.
- The transaction or process by which one alarm installation company or monitoring company begins the servicing and/or monitoring of a previously unmonitored alarm system or an alarm system previously serviced and/or maintained by another alarm company.
- DURESS ALARM
- A silent alarm system signal generated by the entry of a designated code into an arming station in order to signal that the alarm user is being forced to turn off the system, the safety of the alarm user is threatened and protection of a sworn officer or fire-fighter is required.
- FALSE ALARM
- An alarm dispatch request to the Montclair Police Department, when the responding officer finds no evidence of a criminal offense or attempted criminal offense after having completed a timely investigation of the alarm site and there is no indication that an abnormal weather condition or other severe event could have caused the generation of an alarm. "False alarm" also means an alarm dispatch request to the Montclair Fire Department, when the responding fire-fighter does not find any evidence of a fire or fire emergency after completing a timely investigation of the alarm site.
- HOLDUP ALARM
- A silent alarm signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a robbery in progress.
- A license issued by the State of New Jersey to an alarm installation company or monitoring company to sell, install, monitor, repair or replace alarm systems.
- LOCAL ALARM SYSTEM
- Any alarm system which is not monitored and which annunciates an alarm condition only at or near the alarm site.
- The process by which a monitoring company receives alarm signals and other alarm system condition signals from alarm systems and relays alarm notifications to the Montclair Police or Fire Department and to other emergency response agencies.
- MONITORING COMPANY
- A person in the business of providing monitoring services.
- ONE PLUS DURESS ALARM
- The manual activation of a silent alarm by entering at an arming station a code that adds one to the last digit of the normal arm/disarm code (e.g., normal code = 1234, One Plus Duress Code = 1235).
- PANIC ALARM
- An audible alarm system signal generated by the manual activation of the device intended to signal a personal safety or other emergency situation requiring the protection of a law enforcement officer or fire-fighter.
- An individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization or similar entity.
- An individual capable of reaching the alarm site within 30 minutes and having access to the alarm site, the operating codes for the alarm system and the authority to approve repairs to the alarm system.
- The Chief of the Montclair Police or Fire Department.
- SIA CONTROL PANEL STANDARD CP-01
- The ANSI - American National Standard Institute approved Security Industry Association - SIA CP-01 Control Panel Standard, as may be updated from time to time, that details recommended design features for security system control panels and their associated arming and disarming devices to reduce the incidence of false alarms. Control panels built and tested to this standard by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), or other nationally recognized testing organizations, will be marked to state: "Design evaluated in accordance with SIA CP-01 Control Panel Standard Features for False Alarm Reduction."
- The transaction or process by which an alarm user assumes or acquires ownership of an existing alarm system which was previously owned by another alarm user.
- An attempt by a monitoring company, or its representative, to contact the alarm site and/or alarm user by telephone and/or other electronic means, whether or not actual contact with a person is made, to determine whether an alarm signal is valid before requesting law enforcement dispatch, in an attempt to avoid an unnecessary alarm dispatch request. For the purpose of this chapter, telephone verification shall require as a minimum that a second call be made to a different number if the first attempt fails to reach an alarm user who can properly identify themselves to determine whether an alarm signal is valid before requesting official dispatch.
- A division of devices into which an alarm system is divided to indicate the general location from which an alarm system signal is transmitted.
No alarm user shall operate, or cause to be operated, an alarm system at its alarm site without a valid alarm registration. A separate alarm registration is required for each alarm site.
Existing alarm systems. Any alarm system which has been installed before the effective date of this chapter shall be registered by the alarm user within 60 days of such effective date. Within 15 days of written modification from the alarm administrator, an alarm installation company or monitoring company shall provide a list of existing alarm users in the Township (provided such information is not protected from disclosure by any federal, state or local requirements).
New alarm systems. Any alarm installation company that installs an alarm system on premises located within the Township shall, within 10 days from the date of installation, notify the alarm administrator, using a form provided by the alarm administrator, that an alarm system has been installed and send to the alarm administrator the name and address of the alarm user and a copy of the Police and Fire Department's false alarm prevention checklist. Failure of an alarm installation company to notify the alarm administrator of a new alarm system installation within 10 days after installation shall result in a fine of $100 to the alarm installation company. Information provided in accordance with this requirement shall be treated as private and proprietary information and not made available to any person outside of the Montclair Police or Fire Department or its bonded administration contractor.
Upon receipt of a completed alarm registration application form and the alarm registration fee, the alarm administrator shall register the applicant by entering the required data into the Police and Fire Department's alarm administration system data base.
Each alarm registration application must include the following information:
The name, complete address (including apartment/suite number) and telephone numbers of the person who will be the registration holder and be responsible for the proper maintenance and operation of the alarm system and payment of fees assessed under this article;
The classification of the alarm site as either residential (including apartment, condo, mobile home, etc.) or commercial;
For each alarm system located at the alarm site, the classification of the alarm system (i.e., burglary, holdup, duress, panic alarms or other) and for each classification whether such alarm is audible or silent;
Mailing address, if different from the address of the alarm site;
Any dangerous or special conditions present at the alarm site such as dogs or other animals;
Names and telephone numbers of at least two individuals who are able and have agreed to receive notification of an alarm system activation at any time; respond to the alarm site within 30 minutes at any time; and upon request can grant access to the alarm site and deactivate the alarm system if necessary;
Type of business conducted at a commercial alarm site;
Signed certification from the alarm user stating the following:
The date of installation, conversion or takeover of the alarm system, whichever is applicable;
The name, address and telephone number of the alarm installation company or companies performing the alarm system installation, conversion or takeover and of the alarm installation company responsible for providing repair service to the alarm system;
The name, address and telephone number of the monitoring company if different from the alarm installation company;
That a set of written operating instructions for the alarm system, including written guidelines on how to avoid false alarms, have been delivered to the applicant by the alarm installation company; and
That the alarm installation company has trained the applicant in the proper use of the alarm system, including instructions on how to avoid false alarms; and
That the Police and Fire Department response may be influenced by factors, including, but not limited to, the availability of officers or fire-fighters, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, staffing levels, etc.
Any false statement of a material fact made by an applicant for the purpose of obtaining an alarm registration shall be sufficient cause for refusal to issue a registration.
An alarm registration cannot be transferred to another person or alarm site. An alarm user shall inform the alarm administrator of any change that alters any of the information listed on the alarm registration application within five business days of such change.
All fines and fees owed by an applicant must be paid before an alarm registration may be issued or renewed.
An alarm registration shall expire one year from the date of issuance, and must be renewed annually by submitting an updated application and a registration renewal fee to the alarm administrator. The alarm administrator shall notify each alarm user of the need to renew 30 days prior to the expiration of the registration. It is the responsibility of the alarm user to submit an application prior to the registration expiration date. Failure to renew will be classified as use of a nonregistered alarm system and penalties may be assessed in accordance with this chapter. A late fee of $25 may be assessed if the renewal is more than 30 days late.
An alarm user shall:
Maintain the alarm site and the alarm system in a manner that will minimize or eliminate false alarms;
Make every reasonable effort to have a responder arrive at the alarm system's location within 30 minutes after being requested by the law enforcement agency to attend to:
Not activate an emergency alarm condition for any reason other than an occurrence of an emergency event that the alarm system was intended to report.
An alarm user shall adjust the mechanism or cause the mechanism to be adjusted so that an alarm signal audible on the exterior of the alarm site will sound for no longer than 10 minutes after being activated.
An alarm user shall have an alarm installation company inspect the alarm system after two false alarms in a one-year period. The alarm administrator may waive a required inspection if it determines that a false alarm could not have been related to a defect or malfunction in the alarm system. After four false alarm within a one-year period, the alarm user must have an alarm installation company modify the alarm system to be more false-alarm-resistant or provide additional user training as appropriate.
An alarm user shall not use automatic voice dialers.
An alarm user shall maintain at each alarm site a set of written operating instructions for each alarm system.
All alarm users shall agree with their alarm installation company and/or monitoring company to an acclimation period for the first seven days after installation of an alarm system during which time the alarm installation company and/or monitoring company will have no obligation to and will not respond to any alarm sSignal from the alarm site and will not make an alarm dispatch request to law enforcement personnel, even if the alarm signal is the result of an actual alarm event.
An alarm installation company shall provide written and oral instructions to each of its alarm users in the proper use and operation of its alarm systems. Such instructions will specifically include all instructions necessary to turn the alarm system on and off and to avoid false alarms.
Upon the effective date of this chapter, alarm installation companies shall not program alarm systems so that they are capable of sending One Plus Duress Alarms. Monitoring companies may continue to report One Plus Duress Alarms received from alarm systems programmed with One Plus Duress Alarms prior to enactment of this chapter. However, upon the effective date of this chapter, when a takeover or conversion occurs or if an alarm user requests an alarm system inspection or modification pursuant to § 71-4C of this chapter, an alarm installation company must remove the One Plus Duress Alarm capability from such alarm systems.
Alarm installation companies shall not install a device to activate a holdup alarm, which is a single-action, nonrecessed button.
Effective 90 days after enactment of this chapter, alarm installation companies shall, on new installations, use only alarm control panels which meet SIA Control Panel Standard CP-01.
An alarm company shall not use automatic voice dialers.
Upon completion of the installation of an alarm system, an alarm installation company employee shall review with the alarm user the Police and Fire Department's false alarm prevention checklist or an equivalent checklist approved by the alarm administrator.
The monitoring company shall not provide an alarm notification to a burglar alarm signal, excluding panic, duress and holdup signals, during the first seven days following installation of an alarm system. The alarm administrator may grant an alarm user's request for an exemption from this waiting period based upon a determination that special circumstances substantiate the need for exemption.
A monitoring company shall:
Report alarm signals used by telephone numbers designated by the alarm administrator;
Verify every alarm signal, except a duress or holdup alarm activation before providing an alarm notification to an alarm system signal;
Communicate alarm notifications to the Police or Fire Department in a manner and form determined by the alarm administrator;
Communicate cancellations to the Police or Fire Department in a manner and form determined by the alarm administrator;
Ensure that all alarm users of alarm systems equipped with a duress, holdup or panic alarm are given adequate training as to the proper use of such alarms;
Communicate any available information about the location of all alarm signals related to the alarm dispatch request (north, south, front, back, floor, etc.);
Communicate type of alarm activation (silent or audible, interior or perimeter);
Provide an alarm user registration number when providing an alarm notification;
After an alarm notification, promptly advise the Police or Fire Department if the monitoring company knows that the alarm user or the responder is enroute to the alarm site;
Attempt to contact the alarm user or responder within 24 hours via mail, fax, telephone or other electronic means when an alarm dispatch request is made; and
Upon the effective date of this chapter, monitoring companies must maintain for a period of at least one year from the date of the alarm dispatch request records relating to alarm notifications. Records must include the name, address and telephone number of the alarm user, the alarm system zone(s) activated, the time of alarm dispatch request and evidence of an attempt of verify. The alarm administrator may request copies of such records for individually named alarm users. If the request is made within 60 days of an alarm dispatch request, the monitoring company shall furnish requested records within three business days of receiving the request. If the records are requested between 60 days to one year after an alarm dispatch request, the monitoring company shall furnish the requested records within 30 days of receiving the request.
An alarm installation company and/or monitoring company that purchases alarm system accounts from another person shall notify the alarm administrator of such purchase and provide such details as may be reasonably requested by the alarm administrator.
All alarm installation companies and monitoring companies shall maintain any and all licenses required by the State of New Jersey.
The alarm administrator shall establish a procedure to record such information on alarm notifications necessary to permit the alarm administrator to maintain records, including but not limited to, the information listed below:
Identification of the registration number for the alarm site;
Identification of the alarm site;
Date and time alarm notification was received, including the name of the monitoring company and the monitoring operator name and number;
Date and time of officer of fire-fighter's arrival at the alarm site;
Alarm zone and zone description, if available;
Name of alarm user's representative at the alarm site, if any;
Identification of the responsible alarm installation company or monitoring company; and
Cause of alarm signal, if known.
The alarm administrator shall establish a procedure for notification to the alarm user of a false alarm. The notice shall include the following information:
The alarm administrator may require a conference with an alarm user and the alarm installation company and/or monitoring company responsible for the repair or monitoring of the alarm system to review the circumstances of each false alarm.
The alarm administrator may require an alarm user to remove a holdup alarm that is a single-action, nonrecessed button if a false holdup alarm has occurred.
The alarm administrator will make a copy of this chapter and/or a chapter summary sheet available to the alarm user.
In addition to the service fee set forth above, any person operating a nonregistered alarm system will be subject to an additional fee of $100 for each false alarm. The alarm administrator may waive this additional fee for a nonregistered system if the alarm user submits an application for alarm registration within 10 days after notification of such violation.
If cancellation occurs prior to law enforcement or Fire Department personnel arriving at the scene, this shall not be considered a false alarm, and no service fee will be assessed.
The alarm installation company shall be assessed a fee of $100 if the officer or fire-fighter responding to the false alarm determines that an on-site employee of the alarm installation company directly caused the false alarm, and the false alarm will not be assessed against the alarm user.
The monitoring company shall be assessed a fee of $100 for each failure to verify alarm system signals as specified in § 71-5H(2) of this chapter.
The alarm installation company shall be assessed a fee of $200 if the alarm administrator determines that an alarm installation company employee knowingly made a false statement concerning the inspection of an alarm site or the performance of an alarm system.
[Amended 4-5-2011 by Ord. No. O-11-013]
The alarm administrator shall notify the alarm user in writing after each false alarm. The notice shall include either a warning or the amount of the fee for the false alarm, the fact that police response may be suspended for nonpayment (excluding duress, robbery, holdup and panic alarms), and a statement of the appeals procedures available to the alarm user.
The alarm administrator shall notify the alarm user in writing 30 days before an alarm response is suspended. If the alarm user is suspended from police response, they must pay all outstanding fees and an additional reinstatement fee of $100 to begin receiving police response again.
If a fee or fine is assessed, the alarm administrator shall send a written notice of the assessment and a statement of the right to appeal to the affected applicant or alarm user and the alarm installation company and/or monitoring company.
Any alarm user, alarm installation company or monitoring company may appeal the assessment of a fee or fine to the alarm administrator by setting forth in writing the reasons for the appeal within 15 business days after notification of the fee.
Any alarm user, alarm installation company or monitoring company may appeal the decision of the alarm administrator to the Police or Fire Chief or his designee as follows:
The alarm user, alarm installation company or monitoring company shall file a written request for review. The request must be made within 20 business days after notification of the decision from the alarm administrator.
The Chief or his designee shall conduct a hearing within 30 days of receipt of the request. The Chief or his designee shall render a decision based on the preponderance of the evidence presented at the hearing. The Chief or his designee shall render a decision affirming or reversing the decision of the alarm administrator within 15 days after the hearing is concluded.
The filing of an appeal shall stay the action by the alarm administrator requiring payment of any fee or fine until the Chief or his designee has completed his review. If an appeal is not filed within the aforementioned twenty-business-day period, the action of the alarm administrator shall be final.
The alarm administrator or Chief may adjust the number of false alarms assessed against an alarm user based on:
Evidence that a false alarm was caused by an act of God;
Evidence that a false alarm was caused by action of the telephone company;
Evidence that a false alarm was caused by a power outage lasting longer than four hours;
Evidence that the alarm dispatch request was not a false alarm;
Evidence that the law enforcement officer's or fire-fighter's response was not completed in a timely fashion; and/or
In determining the number of false alarms, multiple alarms occurring in any twenty-four-hour period may be counted as one false alarm to allow the alarm user time to take corrective action unless the false alarms are directly caused by the alarm user.
With respect to fees or fines assessed to an alarm installation company or monitoring company, the alarm administrator or Chief may take into consideration whether the company has engaged in a consistent pattern of violations.
Enforcement of this chapter may be by civil action as provided by law.
In the interest of public safety, all information contained in and gathered through the alarm registration applications and applications for appeals shall be held in confidence by all employees or representatives of the Police or Fire Department and by any third-party administrator or employees of a third-party administrator with access to such information.
Alarm registration is not intended, nor shall it be construed, to create any contract, duty or obligation on the part of the Township of Montclair, either expressed or implied, to respond to any alarm. The Township shall not be liable for any losses or damages, including consequential damages, resulting from the Township's failure to respond to a notification and the Township expressly retains all governmental immunities provided by law. By applying for an alarm registration, an alarm user acknowledges that the Township's ability to respond to an alarm may be influenced by various factors such as the availability of officers or fire-fighters, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, staffing levels and prior response history.
The provisions of this chapter are severable. If a court determines that any word, phrase, clause, sentence, paragraph, subsection, section of other provision of this chapter is invalid, the remaining provisions of this chapter and the application of those provisions to other persons or circumstances are not affected by that decision.